Find plenty of attractions, museums and fun things to do inside on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In addition to free admission to the national park, all of the attractions inside the park are free. Explore an historic mill or village. Learn about the park at museums and ranger stations with many programs and events. Outside the park boundaries, visit friendly small towns with historic main streets filled with local shops, historic sites, restaurants and places to make your vacation one to remember. 

Top 20 Attractions, Great Smoky Mountains NC

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad

Take a scenic train ride on excursions along the Nantahala and Tuckasegee Rivers, over the mountains, across valleys and through tunnels. Choose from a variety of train adventures departing from… read more

Take a scenic train ride on excursions along the Nantahala and Tuckasegee Rivers, over the mountains, across valleys and through tunnels. Choose from a variety of train adventures departing from Bryson City. Many special event train rides including beer, wine and Polar Express.

Swain County Heritage Museum

Located on the second floor of the historic courthouse in Bryson City, see photos, exhibits and video about the early settlers in the Great Smoky Mountains, including a restored log cabin porch.… read more

Located on the second floor of the historic courthouse in Bryson City, see photos, exhibits and video about the early settlers in the Great Smoky Mountains, including a restored log cabin porch. Free admission.

Nantahala Outdoor Center

NOC has been offering whitewater rafting for over 50 years! Enjoy family-friendly paddles on both the French Broad River outside of Asheville and on the Nantahala River campus outside of Bryson… read more

NOC has been offering whitewater rafting for over 50 years! Enjoy family-friendly paddles on both the French Broad River outside of Asheville and on the Nantahala River campus outside of Bryson City with ziplining, lake paddling, restaurants, lodging, and more!

Nantahala Gorge Canopy Tour

Enjoy a half-mile of airtime with three sky bridges and six transfer bridges, 13 zip line sections and 20 scenic and unspoiled acres of flying area, all within the heavily wooded setting of the… read more

Enjoy a half-mile of airtime with three sky bridges and six transfer bridges, 13 zip line sections and 20 scenic and unspoiled acres of flying area, all within the heavily wooded setting of the Nantahala National Forest. Fly through multiple ecosystems in a deciduous forest packed with native flowering plants. Combine this with a whitewater rafting trip down the river.

American Museum of the House Cat

See a fascinating collection of 10,000+ cat-related curiosities, including many rare and fascinating antiques, collected by "CatMan2" for the past 20 years. One of the few museums in the country… read more

See a fascinating collection of 10,000+ cat-related curiosities, including many rare and fascinating antiques, collected by "CatMan2" for the past 20 years. One of the few museums in the country dedicated to felines. Near Dillsboro.

Clingmans Dome Observation Tower

See the 360-degree scenic view from the tallest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park via a half-mile walk or enjoy views from the parking area. Open April-November.

See the 360-degree scenic view from the tallest peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park via a half-mile walk or enjoy views from the parking area. Open April-November.

Wehrloom Honey Bee Farm

Visit this farm for all-natural raw honey products and watch bees at work in their observatory, located in Robbinsville, NC. Self-guided and guided tours available.

Visit this farm for all-natural raw honey products and watch bees at work in their observatory, located in Robbinsville, NC. Self-guided and guided tours available.

Mingus Mill & Smokemont Church

See two historic structures within a few miles of each other in the Great Smoky Mountains, both located near the North Carolina entrance on Newfound Gap Road / US 441 near Cherokee.

See two historic structures within a few miles of each other in the Great Smoky Mountains, both located near the North Carolina entrance on Newfound Gap Road / US 441 near Cherokee.

Newfound Gap Road

Drive the very popular U.S. Highway 441 through Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Cherokee. First stop should be the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Museum. Then drive 18 miles… read more

Drive the very popular U.S. Highway 441 through Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Cherokee. First stop should be the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Mountain Farm Museum. Then drive 18 miles and climb 3,000 ft. to Newfound Gap on the Tennessee border. Many turn around here or drive up to Clingmans Dome. Another option is a hike on the Appalachian Trail.

Shelton House, Waynesville

This grand, historic home built in 1875 is home to the Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts, with every room packed with craft, art and furnishings from the 18th and 19th centuries. Open May-… read more

This grand, historic home built in 1875 is home to the Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts, with every room packed with craft, art and furnishings from the 18th and 19th centuries. Open May-October.

5 Scenic Drives, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Blue Ridge Parkway is not the only scenic drive in the Smokies! Drive these top scenic roads in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the North Carolina side, including Newfound Gap Road… read more

The Blue Ridge Parkway is not the only scenic drive in the Smokies! Drive these top scenic roads in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the North Carolina side, including Newfound Gap Road, for the best views and places to stop along the way.

Great Smoky Mountains NC Travel Guide

Order the free 115-page Great Smoky Mountains North Carolina Travel Guide that includes activities and adventures in seven counties that surround the national park, published by Smoky Mountain… read more

Order the free 115-page Great Smoky Mountains North Carolina Travel Guide that includes activities and adventures in seven counties that surround the national park, published by Smoky Mountain Host.

Wheels Through Time Museum

See hundreds of classic motorcycles and automobiles in Maggie Valley in one of best transportation museums in the country. This massive collection includes more than 300 of America's rarest and… read more

See hundreds of classic motorcycles and automobiles in Maggie Valley in one of best transportation museums in the country. This massive collection includes more than 300 of America's rarest and most historic classic motorcycles.

Museum of the Cherokee

Discover the story of the Cherokee people in this impressive museum that sets the scene for the Cherokee Heritage Trails. The Cherokee community presents its perspective on its own history and… read more

Discover the story of the Cherokee people in this impressive museum that sets the scene for the Cherokee Heritage Trails. The Cherokee community presents its perspective on its own history and culture.

Oconaluftee Indian Village

This living history outdoor village portrays eighteenth-century Cherokee life on the mountainside above the town. Interact with villagers as they hull canoes, make pottery and masks, weave baskets… read more

This living history outdoor village portrays eighteenth-century Cherokee life on the mountainside above the town. Interact with villagers as they hull canoes, make pottery and masks, weave baskets and beadwork, dance and participate in their daily activities. Open late April through early November.

Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians

Through exhibits and videos, learn about past fly fishing legends, the evolution of rods and reels, basic knots, fly-tying, types of gear, types of gamefish, regional fishing waters and the… read more

Through exhibits and videos, learn about past fly fishing legends, the evolution of rods and reels, basic knots, fly-tying, types of gear, types of gamefish, regional fishing waters and the history of fly fishing in the Southeast. Open Mon-Sat. Free admission. Check out their Facebook page for hours and updates. 117 Island St., Bryson City, NC 28713 on the Aquarium Campus

Mountain Farm Museum, Oconaluftee Visitor Center & Mingus Mill

Located at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, see historic farm buildings in an open-air museum and get plenty of great information from rangers. Nearby you can… read more

Located at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, see historic farm buildings in an open-air museum and get plenty of great information from rangers. Nearby you can explore Mingus Mill, a historic grist mill dating from 1886.

Great Smoky Mountains Outdoors, North Carolina

The Southern Appalachian mountains area is a paradise for hikers, boaters, anglers, and all other types of outdoor adventurers. See our top outdoor things to do, places, and adventures in the… read more

The Southern Appalachian mountains area is a paradise for hikers, boaters, anglers, and all other types of outdoor adventurers. See our top outdoor things to do, places, and adventures in the Great Smoky Mountains in western North Carolina with trails, rivers, and some of the highest mountains in the East.

Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center ​

Tucked away in small village near Fontana Lake and Nantahala River is an amazing gallery that showcases the work of 180+ area artists and hosts a great summer concert series. Many artist studios… read more

Tucked away in small village near Fontana Lake and Nantahala River is an amazing gallery that showcases the work of 180+ area artists and hosts a great summer concert series. Many artist studios nearby.

Fontana Lake & Dam

Located in the Great Smoky Mountains, enjoy fishing, boating, camping and swimming in this beautiful lake. Drive or walk across the highest dam east of the Rockies and stop by the Visitor Center… read more

Located in the Great Smoky Mountains, enjoy fishing, boating, camping and swimming in this beautiful lake. Drive or walk across the highest dam east of the Rockies and stop by the Visitor Center to learn more about it.

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